“No union more profound”: The US Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage

30 June 2015 by

Photo credit: Guardian

Photo credit: Guardian

The Supreme Court of the United States has decided that same-sex couples have a constitutionally protected right to marry.

In the history of American jurisprudence, there are a handful of cases which are so significant that they will be known to all US law students, much of the domestic population at large, and even large segments of the international community. Brown v Board of Education, which ended racial segregation in schools, is one example. Roe v Wade, which upheld the right of women to access abortion serves, is another. To that list may now be added the case of Obergefell v Hodges.

James Obergefell fell in love with John Arthur over two decades ago. In 2011, Mr Arthur was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive illness with no known cure. They decided to get married before he died, and so in July 2013 they travelled out of their home State of Ohio to Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal. Mr Arthur was too ill to move from the medically-equipped plane, and so the ceremony took place as the plane rested on the airport tarmac in Baltimore. He died a short time later. Under Ohio State law, Mr Arthur could not be identified as “married” on his death certificate, and Mr Obergefell could not be recorded as his surviving spouse. It was a form of separation and non-recognition that Mr Obergefell deemed “hurtful for the rest of time”.

After succeeding in the District Court of Ohio, his case was consolidated with 13 others which variously challenged laws or Constitutions banning gay marriage in the States of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. His success at District Court level was then overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. As many other federal courts had declared same sex marriage to be a constitutionally protected right, the issue was now ripe for Supreme Court determination.

On 10.02 am ET on 26th June 2015, that determination was published. By a majority of 5 – 4, the Supreme Court upheld the right of same-sex couples to get married throughout the country – all 50 States – saying that this right was guaranteed to them under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had also written the majority opinion in Lawrence v Texas, which determined that laws banning homosexual intimacy between consenting adults were unconstitutional. He was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan (the four justices commonly known as the court’s “liberal wing”). Chief Justice Roberts dissented, along with Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito (the four reputedly more conservative justices on the court).

The Majority Opinion

The majority opinion is eloquent, and in parts very moving. In reading it, one has the sense that Justice Kennedy was acutely aware of the historic nature of this decision, and that this opinion would be pored over, analysed, attacked and revered for generations to come.

I hope I do not do a disservice to his reasoning by summarising it as follows:

After setting out the procedural history of the cases before the court, Justice Kennedy addressed the nature of marriage, which he described as being of “transcendent importance” and “essential to [humanity’s] most profound hopes and aspirations”. He also emphasised that, notwithstanding its centrality, “it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change”. In making good his point, he referred to the evolution of marriage in the United States from an arrangement made by parents on behalf of their children to an autonomous and voluntary contract, the abandonment of the law of coverture (under which a married man and woman were treated by the State as a single, male-dominated legal entity) and the lifting of bans on interracial marriage pursuant to the court’s decision in Loving v Virginia.

He then turned his attention to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Two clauses were at issue in the case: (1) the “Due Process Clause”, which provides that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law”; and (2) the “Equal Protection Clause”, which provides that no State shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.

The Due Process Clause

Justice Kennedy explained that case law had established that the Due Process Clause guaranteed the protection of fundamental rights, such as those contained in the US Bill of Rights. In light of that, the question for the court was simple: was the right to marry so fundamental as to bring it within the scope of this clause of the 14th Amendment?

The obvious issue to address in answering that question was the fact that, throughout the history of the United States, marriage had been treated as limited to a relationship between a man and a woman. How could a right be fundamental if it had, by a large degree of consensus, not existed hitherto? Justice Kennedy said that, in determing the existence and scope of fundamental rights:

History and tradition guide and discipline this inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries….That method respects our history and learns from it without allowing it to rule the present.

The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.

He went on to cite numerous cases in which the right to marry had been determined by the courts to be fundamental, and more particularly, he examined the attributes of marriage, as expressed in the case law, which justified marriage being treated in this way.

The four attributes of marriage he identified are as follows:

  1. The right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy, the choice to marry being “among the most intimate that an individual can make”.
  2. The right to marry supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals i.e. it is a profoundly important institution for two people, which dignifies couples who wish to define themselves by their commitment to each other.
  3. The right to marry safeguards children and families, although the ability to procreate has never been a condition of access to the right.
  4. Marriage is a keystone of society’s social order, and thus the status attached to being married brought with it a host of governmental rights and benefits (regarding e.g. wills, visitation rights, tax incentives and more).

All of these principles and considerations, he decided, apply with equal force to same sex couples. He was thus compelled to determine that the right to marry was a fundamental right for same-sex couples as well as heterosexual couples. He concluded:

The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, buts its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest. With that knowledge must come the recognition of laws excluding same-sex couples from the marriage right impose stigma and injury of the kind prohibited by our basic charter.

The Equal Protection Clause

Justice Kennedy did not spend a great deal of time analysing the equality law underpinning this clause, or arguing that it independently gave rise to a right of same-sex couples to marry, but he did say that it frequently had “synergy” with the Court’s approach to the issues arising under the Due Process Clause, and that a conclusion that a law infringed that clause could, and in this case did, also entail an infringement of the Equal Protection Clause:

It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality. Here the marriage laws enforced by the respondents are in essence unequal: same-sex couples are denied all the benefits afforded to opposite sex couples and are barred from exercising a fundamental right. Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them. And the Equal Protection Clause, like the Due Process Clause, prohibits this unjustified infringement of the fundamental right to marry.

Justice Kennedy also addressed a number of objections that he anticipated the majority’s approach would face. First, he acknowledged the argument that Mr Obergefell and the other petitioners were not inviting the court to expand an existing fundamental right, but rather to create an entirely new right to same-sex marriage which had not previously existed, and this was better reserved to the legislature. In response he pointed out that this was not a case about a “right to gay marriage”; it was about the right of gay people to marry in its comprehensive sense. The court had previously rejected the approach of defining rights by reference to those who sought to exercise them.

Secondly, he acknowledged the argument that the Court was pre-empting and cutting off a delicate and important democratic process, in which the question of same-sex marriage was being considered and addressed State by State. The response to this is clear. Setting aside the fact that the question has already been subject to a great deal of debate across various forums in the United States, if the court determines that a fundamental right has been breached, there is no good reason why those who seek to exercise that right should be deprived of the opportunity to do so. They have an immediate and substantial harm, which requires quick redress.

Finally, in a poignant conclusion that will be quoted at weddings and in speeches for many years to come, Justice Kennedy wrote:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The Dissents

And so to the dissenting views. Unusually, individual opinions were written by each of the four dissenting Justices, although many also joined and supported the opinions of their dissenting colleagues.

The most measured dissent was written by Chief Justice John Roberts. He acknowledged the compelling facts of the particular cases before the Court, and was at pains to emphasise that his decision was based on his analysis of the law rather than any opposition to same-sex marriage per se. He argued that, in contrast, the majority had adopted an approach in which they effectively abandoned a rigorous and proper analysis of the law due to their personal belief that same-sex marriage is good and right. In his view, the Court was trespassing on matters of social policy better left to elected representatives:

Understand well what this dissent is about: It is not about whether, in my judgment, the institution of marriage should be changed to include same-sex couples. It is instead about whether, in our democratic republic, that decision should rest with the people acting through their elected representatives, or with five lawyers who happen to hold commissions authorizing them to resolve legal disputes according to law. The Constitution leaves no doubt about the answer.

Of course, I do not have any intimate understanding of the cases he cites, but based on his own analysis of their import and effect, his argument is in some respects compelling. He pointed out, rightly, that there is no explicit right for same-sex couples to marry in the Constitution, and so in addressing the question of whether or not same-sex marriage is protected by the Due Process Clause, the Court was being asked to assess whether or not such a right is implied as a fundamental and protected right. He pointed to numerous authorities which confirm that, when dealing with implied fundamental rights, the courts are to take a very cautious and reserved approach in their analysis. In changing an aspect of the institution of marriage that has existed for thousands of years, he considered that the majority had obviously (and grievously) abandoned that caution.

He argued that the Court’s case law on the “right to marry” was self-evidently premised on the right to enter a marriage “as traditionally defined” between a man and a woman, and although the institution of marriage had changed in various respects over time, no previous case had interfered with the traditional “core definition” of marriage as being between two people: a man and a woman. Thus, in his view, what was being argued for was not a right for same sex couples to marry, but a right for same sex couples to force States to change core aspects of their definition of marriage. No such right exists under the Constitution.

He also noted the way the majority had extracted four broad principles in favour of marriage as justifying its extension to cover same-sex couples, and demonstrated his concern with this approach by pointing out that much of the reasoning would also apply to polyamorous relationships:

Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one. It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.

Finally, he sounds a warning as to the consequences of the court’s ruling for the gay rights movement, and for the Court’s own legitimacy:

By deciding [the question of same sex marriage] under the Constitution, the Court removes it from the realm of democratic decision. There will be consequences to shutting down the political process on an issue of such profound public significance. Closing debate tends to close minds. People denied a voice are less likely to accept the ruling of a court on an issue that does not seem to be the sort of thing courts usually decide…[H]owever heartened the proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause. And they lose this just when the winds of change were freshening at their backs.

For the sake of (some semblance of) brevity, I won’t examine the opinions of the other dissenters in detail, but I do recommend you take a look – especially at the opinion of Justice Scalia, who felt compelled to write a separate opinion “to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy”. Long known as one of the most forthright justices, both fans and detractors alike will delight in an opinion that is imbued with typical bombast, fury, sarcasm and wit.

Another Basis for the Decision? 

The judges on the Supreme Court are all exceptionally fine jurists, and so it is perhaps not surprising that in reading the various opinions, I was persuaded in turn by each one! The final feeling I was left with, however, was that the substantive decision of the majority was the right one, but that the reasoning in the dissents was clearer and perhaps more logical. I wonder, therefore, if perhaps the majority was right for reasons other than those they chose to focus upon.

It is notable, for example, that in both the majority opinion and the dissents, the focus is on the existence of otherwise of a substantive fundamental right to marry under the Due Process Clause. Much less focus is given to the effect and import of the Equal Protection Clause. In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts wrote:

In addition to their due process argument, the petitioners contend that the Equal Protection Clause requires their States to license and recognize same sex marriages. The majority does not seriously engage with this claim. Its discussion is, quite frankly, difficult to follow. The central points seems to be that there is a “synergy” between the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause, and that some precedents relying on one Clause have also relied on the other.

On reading, re-reading, and re-reading again the passages of the majority opinion in relation to the Equal Protection Clause, the Chief Justice’s criticism seems to be a fair one. Perhaps if more focus and explicit analysis had been focused on that clause, a justification for the decision may have emerged which addressed some of the minority’s fears of judicial tyranny and an inexorable slide into legalised polygamy.

To an outsider, it would not be surprising if the question of same-sex marriage was determined solely on the basis of the Equal Protection Clause since, both on its face and at its heart, the same-sex marriage debate is about equality. In no jurisdiction have gay and lesbian people actually been wanting new, extra or special rights; they have simply been asking for the same rights as their heterosexual friends. They can get married; why can’t we? Framing the question in that way brings into focus the inescapable fact that unequal treatment was, prior to Friday’s decision, being meted out based on sexual orientation, which is now largely accepted as an inherent and/or immutable characteristic. The same could not be said for those who choose to live in polyamorous relationships. Moreover, denying those in such relationships the right to enter into a multi-person marriage would not constitute unequal treatment, because they would still have the right to enter into a two-person union just like everyone else. Finally, if the majority’s opinion was based upon ensuring equal access to an existing civil institution, the judicial activism critique would appear to have less force.

Of course, it must be noted that Chief Justice Roberts dismissed the application of the Equal Protection Clause with just one sentence:

In any event, the marriage laws at issue here do not violate the Equal Protection Clause, because distinguishing between opposite-sex and same-sex couples is rationally related to the States’ “legitimate interest” in “preserving the institution of marriage”.

My knowledge of American jurisprudence is nowhere near sufficient to comment on that summary of the issue, but even as a lay person for the purposes of American law, it does invite further questions. Would such an interest really be “legitimate”? Is banning same-sex marriage really “rationally related” to the goal of preserving marriage between one man and one woman? The answers to those questions may not be as obvious as the Chief Justice appears to assume.

There is so much more that could be said about this case, about the long (though others would say “rapid”) struggle that preceded it, about the political undercurrents of the decision (the US judiciary is far more politicised than judges in the United Kingdom) and the ramifications for the approaching presidential election in 2016. However, those are topics for other posts on other blogs and websites.

This post concludes by setting aside the legal issues and returning to where it started – the story of James Obergefell. As recounted by People magazine, following legal argument in the case which bears his name, he was determined to be there in the front row when the final decision was handed down. There is no published schedule for the handing down of decisions, and so on every allocated “decision day” (normally Mondays and Thursdays) he queued up in the early hours of the morning, intent on being first in line, armed only with a notebook and pen so he could hurry straight to a seat without stopping at a locker. He did so for weeks, with the Supreme Court, unusually, handing down its decision on a Friday just before the very end of its term. For Mr Obergefell, this was simply another facet of the promise he made to his husband – another way of doing everything he could to ensure their marriage was imbued with a significance and respect that matched the depth of his commitment. He doesn’t get to celebrate new benefits or rights with his partner now, or hurry to the town hall to marry before family and friends, but he does have an official record, in his home State, which acknowledges that he was married, and that he is the surviving spouse of the man he loved.

I have to say: I am delighted for him.


  1. Jon Holbrook says:

    On Spiked I have argued that this Supreme Court ruling represents a victory for therapy: it’s a judgment intended to appeal to hearts, not minds:


  2. […] US legalizes gay marriage  (UK Human Rights Blog) […]

  3. […] “No union more profound”: The US Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, 30 June 2015. […]

  4. Reblogged this on Children's Rights.

  5. John says:

    Like many others, age has jaded me where my human being friends are concerned but I found the sentiments expressed by Supreme Justice Kennedy hugely heart-warming in character.
    Bringing polyamorous relationships into the judgment, as Chief Justice Roberts did, was – in my opinion – a poor attempt at clouding the issue.
    The legal fact is that marriage in the US between two people is legally permissible whereas marriage between more than two people is not.
    It is amazing that the Chief Justice fails to know his own country’s law.

    1. mark pummell says:

      utterly second that emotion; everything a supreme court judgment should be… poised and persuasive

  6. James Byrne says:

    Thank you for such a well written analysis. I am Irish- 66 years old and gay. I never thought I would see the time when my own countrymen would acknowledge my rights so resoundingly as they did in the recent referendum. Now the USA does it too. But we must think of so many around the world denied this fundamental right.

  7. mark pummell says:

    everything that a supreme court judgment should be… elegant, humane and persuasive…

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humanitarian law international human rights international human rights law International Labour Organisation international law International Stem Cell Corporation international treaty obligations internet internet libel internet service providers internment internship interrogation intrusion inuit invasive species invention investigation investigative duty in vitro fertilisation Iran iranian bank sanctions Iranian nuclear program iran sanctions Iraq Iraqi asylum seeker Iraq War Ireland Irish Constitution irrationality ISC ISIL islam isolated nucleic acids isolation Israel israeli palestinian conflict italian ships Italy iTunes IVF ivory ban Jack Dorsey jackson reforms Janowiec and Others v Russia ( Japan japanese knotweed Jason Smith jean charles de menezes Jeet Singh Jefferies jehovah's witnesses Jeremy Clarkson Jeremy Corbyn jeremy hunt jihad Jihadi brides jihadists JIH identity jim duffy job jobseekers' allowance Jogee John Hemming John Terry joint enterprise joint tenancy jonathan sumption Jon Guant Joseph v Spiller journalism judaism judges Judges and Juries judging judgment judgment in default Judicial activism judicial brevity judicial deference Judicial immunity judicial no-mans land judicial oversight judicial power judicial review Judicial Review reform Judicial Studies Board judiciary Julian Assange Julian Asssange Juncker jurisdiction jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Act Justice and Security Bill Justice and Security Green Paper Justice Cameron Justice Human Rights Awards JUSTICE Human Rights Awards 2010 justiciability justification just satisfaction Kant Katyn Massacre Kay v Lambeth Kay v UK kazakstan Ken Clarke Ken Pease Kerry McCarthy Kettling Khan v Advocate General for Scotland khordokovsky Kings College Kiobel Klimas koran burning laboratory animals laboratory test Labour labour law lack of reasons Lady Hale land landfill gas landowner landowners language lansley NHS reforms LASPO Law Commission Law Pod UK Law Society Law Society of Scotland leave to enter leave to remain Lee Rigby legal advice privilege legal aid legal aid cuts Legal Aid desert Legal Aid Reforms legal blogs Legal Certainty legality legal naughty step Legal Ombudsman legal privilege legal profession legal professional privilege legal representation legitimate expectation let as a dwelling Leveson Inquiry Levi Bellfield lewisham hospital closure Lewis Malcolm Calver liability Libel libel reform Liberal Democrat Conference Liberal Democrats liberal humanism Liberty libraries closure library closures licence conditions licence to shoot licensee life insurance life orders life sentence life support limestone pavements limitation lisbon treaty Lithuania litigant in person litvinenko live exports livestock livestock trade living instrument living will LME local authorities local government locked in syndrome locus standi london borough of merton London Legal Walk London Probation Trust Lord Bingham Lord Bingham of Cornhill Lord Blair Lord Carey Lord Goldsmith lord irvine Lord Judge Lord Judge speech Lord Justice Jackson Lord Kerr Lord Lester Lord Mance Lord Neuberger Lord Phillips Lord Rodger Lord Sales Lord Saville Report Lord Sumption Lord Taylor LSC tender luftur rahman MAGA Magna Carta Magna Carter Mail Online mail on sunday Majority Verdict Malcolm Kennedy male circumcision malice malicious falsehood mandela M and Others v Her Majesty’s Treasury manifestation of belief manifestos Margaret Thatcher Margin of Appreciation margin of discretion Maria Gallastegui Marie Colvin marine conservation marine environmental law marine sanctuaries Mark Kennedy mark twain marriage marriage act 1949 material support maternity pay Matthew Woods Mattu v The University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust [2011] EWHC 2068 (QB) Maya the Cat Mba v London Borough Of Merton Mcfarlane McKenzie friend me/cfs research Media and Censorship media judge Medical medical confidentiality medical ethics medical evidence medical liability medical negligence medical profession medical qualifications medical records medical treatment medicine mental capacity mental capacity; press; reporting restrictions Mental Capacity Act Mental Capacity Act 2005 Mental Health mental health act mental health advocacy mental health awareness Mental Health Courts mental health hospital Mental illness merits review mesothelioma metgate MGN v UK michael gove Middle Temple Midwives Milly Dowler minimally conscious minimum income minimum sentence Ministerial Code Ministry of Justice Ministry of Justice cuts miscarriage of justice misfeasance in public office missiles misuse of private information mitochondrial disease MMR MMR vaccination modern slavery Mohamed monitoring powers monsanto montgomery mooring moral circle morality morocco mortgage fraud mortuaries motherhood motor neuron disease Motor Neurone disease Moulton Mousa movement for democratic change MP expenses Mr Brewer Mr Gul Mr Justice Eady Mr Justice Sharp MS (Palestinian Territories) (FC) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Munchausen Munchausen by proxy murder murder reform music Musician's Union Muslim mustafa kamal mutation mutations myanmar MY Cannis my kingdom for a horse Myriad NADA v. SWITZERLAND - 10593/08 - HEJUD [2012] ECHR 1691 Nadja Benaissa naked rambler Naomi Campbell narcolepsy National Health Act nationality National Origin National Pro Bono Week national security national sovereignty Natural England natural rights nature nature conservation naturism Nazi neanderthals necessary implication need for legal aid needs assessment negligence neighbour dispute Neuberger neural degeneration neurogenerative disease neuroscience Newcastle university news News of the World news roundup new Supreme Court President NGO standing NHS NHS Risk Register NICE Nick Clegg Nicklinson Niqaab niqab No Angels Noise Regulations 2005 non-justiciability nonhuman animals non voluntary euthanasia Northern Ireland Northern Irish Assembly notification requirements nuclear challenges nuisance nurse nursing nursing home obiter dicta Occupy London offensive jokes Offensive Speech offensive t shirt official solicitor of Rights Commission oil and gas oil spill olympics open justice oppress oppressive treatment OPQ v BJM orchestra orthodox schools Osama Bin Laden Osborn v The Parole Board [2013] UKSC 61 ouster clause overseas aid Oxford University Palestinian Territories palliative care palliative sedation paramount consideration paramountcy principle parental responsibility order parental rights parenthood parents responsibility parking spaces parliament parliamentary expenses parliamentary expenses scandal Parliamentary sovereignty Parliament square parole parole board party funding passengers rights passing off passive smoking passport passport seizure pastor Terry Jones patent patents paternity Pathway Students patiets' rights Patrick Quinn murder Paul Chambers PCOs peace-keeping operations Pensions people for the ethical treatment of animals (Peta) performers' rights permanent injunction persecution persistent vegetative state personal data personal information Personal Injury personality rights Personal life perversity Pet Animals Act 1951 Peter and Hazelmary Bull Peter Gibson pet shops PF and EF v UK Philip Lawrence Phil Woolas phone hacking phone taps photos photovoltaics physical and mental disabilities physical restraint physician assisted death Pinnock Piracy PJS placement order planning planning human rights planning system planning time limits plantagenet plebgate pleural plaques POCA podcast points poison Poland Police police investigations police liability police misconduct police powers police surveillance policing Policy Exchange report political advertising political judges political persecution politicians for hire Politics Politics/Public Order pollution polonium poor reporting Pope Pope's visit Pope Benedict porsche 917 portal possession order possession proceedings post mortem Posts power of attorney PoW letters to ministers pre-nup pre-nuptial Pre-trial detention predator control pregnancy preliminary reference prerogative powers press Press Association press briefing press freedom Priest priests primary legislation Prince Andrew Prince Charles prince of wales princess caroline of monaco principle of subsidiarity prior restraint prison Prisoners prisoners rights prisoners voting prisoner vote prisoner votes prisoner voting prison numbers prison rules Prisons prison vote privacy privacy injunction privacy law through the front door private disputes Private life private nuisance private use procedural unfairness Procedure proceeds of crime Professional Discipline professional indemnity Professional life Property property rights proportionality prosecution Protection of Freedoms Act Protection of Freedoms Bill protective costs Protest protest camp protest rights Protocol 15 psychiatric hospitals psychology psychotherapy Public/Private public access publication public authorities public authority public bodies Public Bodies Bill public figure public funding public inquiries public inquiry public interest public interest environmental litigation public interest immunity public interest litigation publicity public law unfairness Public Order public powers public procurement Public Sector Equality Duty Public Services Ombudsman Putin putting the past behind quango quantum quarantine Queen's Speech queer in the 21st century R (on the application of) v Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts & Anor [2012] EWCA Civ 472 R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Ors [2011] EWCA Civ 895 R (on the application of) v The General Medical Council [2013] EWHC 2839 (Admin) R (on the application of EH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 2569 (Admin) R (on the application of G) v The Governors of X School Rabone Rabone and another v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust [2012] UKSC 2 Race race relations Rachel Corrie racial discrimination Racial equality radio radiotherapy Radmacher Raed Salah Mahajna Raed Saleh Ramsgate randomised controlled trial rape rape case raptors Ratcliffe 6 Ratcliffe on Soar Ratcliffe power station rating rationality rcs RCW v A Local Authority reasonableness reasons reasons challenges recent case law and news Recent posts reception conditions recognition of judgments recreational rights Redfearn v UK referendum reform refugee applications refugee crisis refugee status refusal of treatment Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages registration regulatory rehabilitation of offenders Reith Lectures Re J (A Child: Disclosure) [2012] EWCA Civ 1204 relgious freedom Religion religion in the courts religious beliefs religious discrimination religious freedom religious prosecution remedies renewables subsidies rent repeal reporting restrictions representation reproductive rights reproductive technologies reproductive wrongs rescue rescuer's claim resettlement of offenders resource allocation respect for family life responsibility in tort restrictions on exports restrictions on liberty results 2010 resuscitation retrospective application of the Human Rights Act retrospective legislation retrospective penalty retrospectivity rev paul nicholson reynolds Reynolds defence Re [2012] EWCA Civ 1233 richard III Richard O'Dwyer right of appeal rightsifno RightsInfo rights of children Right to a fair hearing right to a fair trial right to a home right to a remedy right to artistic expression right to a student loan right to autonomy right to autonomy and privacy right to die right to dies right to die with dignity right to dignity right to education right to expression right to family life right to food right to free enjoyment of possessions right to information right to liberty right to life right to peaceful enjoyment of property Right to Privacy right to private and family life right to refuse treatment right to respect for private life right to silence right to strike right to swim right to truth right to vote Rihanna Rio Ferdinand riots ripa rise of fascism risk risk assessment rival supermarkets Roma Roman Catholic Roman Catholic Church roman catholic schools Romania Rooney's Gold roundup roundup ready Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust royal dutch petroleum royal name Royal Oper House Royal Prerogative rule of law Rupert Jackson Rusal Russia russia and human rights Russian Federal Security Service Rutherford Ryanair s sadie frost Safari same-sex same sex parents same sex partnerships same sex relationship sanctions set aside sanctity of life Sandiford Sapiens Sarah Ferguson sark satire saudi arabia Savage (Respondent) v South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Saville Report schedule 7 schizophrenia school building school surveillance schrems science scientific atheism scientific research scientology Scoppola Scotland Scotland Act Scotland Act 1998 Scotland Bill Scottish Government Scottish Human Rights Commission scottish landlord and tenant Scottish Parliament SCOTUS sea fishing seals Seal v UK search engines search powers secondary legislation secondary smoking secrecy Secretary of State Secretary of State for the Home Department v AP secret courts secret criminal trial secret evidence secret justice Secret trials sectarianism secularism security security cameras security services security vetting Sedar Mohammed segregation Select Committee on AI self-defence self-incrimination seminar sentencing September 11 serco serious harm sermon Seroxat service outside jurisdiction set-off Sewel Convention sex abuse sex ban sex ban low IQ sex offender Sex offenders sex register sexual abuse Sexual Offences sexual orientation sexual orientation regulations SFO investigation sfo unlawfulness shaker aamer Shamima Begum sham marriage shared residence order Sharon Shoesmith shetland shipping shipwreck Shirley Chaplin shooting shoulder shrug should trees have rights SIAC sihkism Simon Singh sir alan ward Sir Nicholas Wall Sir Peter six months rule slander slaughterhouses slavery smacking small claims court small solar Smith Smith & Ors v The Ministry of Defence [2012] EWCA Civ 1365 smog smoking ban Snyder v Phelps social and economic rights social benefits social housing socialite social media social security law social welfare social workers Solicitorsfromhell website solitary confinement soma somali pirates sources South Africa south african constitution sovereignty Sovereignty clause soviet union soybean Spanish properties spare room subsidy special advocate special advocates species specific performance spending cuts spielmann squatters Standing standing rules starvation state immunity statelessness statute statutory power Statutory purpose stay of execution stem cell research stem cells stem cell therapy Stephen Gough stephen sedley stepping hill hospital Sterilisation steve macqueen Steven Neary stobart-law stop and search stop powers Stormont Assembly storms Strasborug Strasbourg Strasbourg Court strasbourg damages pirates strasbourg law Strasbourg terminology strategic environmental assessment strike strike out Strikes student loans sturgeon subsidies Sugar v BBC suicide suicide act 1961 super injunction super injunctions supermax prisons superstition Supreme Court Supreme Court Live Supreme Court of Canada Supreme Court Scotland surgery surrogacy surrogacy arrangement surveillance swine flu Syria systemic violence Take That tallinn tariff Taser Tax tax avoidance tax discrimination tchenguiz technology Telegraph telephone preference service television justice tenancy tent city termination termination of pregnancy terror asset freezing Terrorism terrorism act terrorism act 2000 terrorism legislation terrorism prosecution terrorist finance terrorist threat terry pratchett Tesla testamentary dispositions The Bike Project the Catholic church The Corner House theism The Law in These Parts therapy Theresa May the right to privacy The Stig The Sun third countries third party appeals three way case time limits time limits in human rights Tobacco tobacco cartels Top Gear tort Torture torture inquiry totally without merit TPIM TPP tracking trade trade secrets trades unions trade union congress Trade Unions transexual transsexual transsexuals travel travellers travel restrictions treason treatment treaty treaty accession trial by jury trolling TTIP TTM v London Borough of Hackney & Ors Tugendhat tumour Turkey tweeting in court Twitter twitter in court Twitter Joke Trial UK UK citizenship uk constitution UK election UK Human Rights Blog UK Human Rights Roundup UKIP UK Jewish Film Festival ukraine UK Supreme Court UK Uncut ultra orthodox jews ultra vires UN unable to vote unacceptable behaviour policy unaccompanied minors unborn child UN Convention on the Rights of the Child unelected judges unemployment unfair consultation unfair dismissal unfairness at hearing Unison Unite United Against Fascism Group United Kingdom United Nations United States United States v Windsor universal declaration of human rights universal jurisdiction Universal Periodic Review University University Fees university of east anglia University of Southampton unjust and oppressive unlawful arrest unlawful detention unpaid work schemes UN Resolution unsolicited calls UPR US aviation US Constitution use as of right US Supreme Court vaccination Valkyries variants veganism vehicle breakdown vetting and barring vicarious liability victim victim status Victoria Climbie victorian charter Vienna airport vigilantism villagisation vinton cerf violence violist visa scheme vivisection voluntary euthanasia Volunteers voter compensation voters compensation voting voting compensation vulnerable Wagner Wakefield Wales War war correspondents ward of court War Horse water utilities Watts Wayne Rooney Websites welfare of child welfare of children welfare of the child welfare state welsh bill western sahara whaling What would happen if the UK withdrew from the European Court of Human Rights whimbrel whisky Whistleblowing WHO who is JIH whole gene sequencing whole life orders whorship Wikileaked cable Wikileaks wiklleaks Wild Law wildlife Wildlife and Countryside Act will William Hague William Marbury wills wind farms wind turbine Winterbourne View witchcraft withdrawal of treatment wolves women's rights Woolas worboys Workers working time directive wrongful birth wrongful conception wrongful life WTO wuhan X AND OTHERS v. AUSTRIA - 19010/07 - HEJUD [2013] ECHR 148 X Factor XX v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWCA Civ 742 X Y and Z v UK Yemshaw Yildirim v Turkey Your freedom website YouTube yukos Yuval Noah Hariri Zakir Naik Zanu-PF Zero Hours Contracts ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Zimbabwe Zimbabwe farm invasions ZN (Afghanistan) (FC) and others ZZ [2015] CSIH 29 [2015] CSOH 168 £750


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